Tuesday, November 30, 2010



We ate at Easton today.


Before I go on, I feel like I need to give you a bit of an explanation.


If you noticed the name of this blog, you will see that it is about finding 'authentic' things in and around Columbus. Easton may be the antidote to this blog since it is mostly comprised of chain stores, chain restaurants, things that you can find in most places in this country...and around the world (think fast food chains).


But thankfully, as we found out tonight, not everything there fits that bill. You can find some things that are relatively authentic, relatively good, and the perfect stop for dinner with the family on a rainy night (after picking up a member of the family who insists on bike-commuting 15 miles to work).


Edamame is the place. We all love Japanese food in our family. And we have explored a few places in town that are worth writing home about. We have even been here! The plethora and quality of the cuisine here, in central Ohio, is quite impressive. We are happy about that, needless to say.

This restaurant is unique (look at the colors and decor), but serves up perfectly acceptable sushi rolls, miso soup (not the best, but I am picky), green tea, and mochi ice cream.

Service was wonderful, and best of all, if you eat on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, you get a good deal on your sushi rolls. Who would say no to that?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Field Trip: Grand Rapids Michigan


There is one happy Jeni's taster, and she does not live in Ohio!


We are visiting family in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
At some point along the way, I heard that Jeni's can be found at this lovely store on Wealthy Street, not too far from the family's home.

So we went on a treasure hunt, and found these lovely tubs of goodness.
They even offered some tastings from flavors in the back on the store!
I am happy to say that I have now tasted the new Olive Oil flavor. Love it.

I am glad that our neighbors to the north get to experience a slice of heaven that was born (and raised) in our fair state.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Bear's Mill


Tucked away, and nestled by Greenville River, is historic Bear's Mill. It is quite a drive from Columbus (almost two hours), but it is well worth the trip, I tell you.


The mill has been in operation since 1849, and the master miller himself (Terry Clark) can tell you all about it. He can also tell you that it took him over a year to teach himself how to work this old-fashioned, water-powered mill. There is only a hand full of them left in the state, and not that many in the country.


We enjoyed visiting the mill this weekend, during their Christmas preview open house. Terry did a demonstration, showing us how he grinds wheat, corn, and spelt. He also shows us how the water-powered mill can generate its own electricity. He proved to us that we were all 'green' just a generation or so ago. We were in awe, and inspired, to say the least.

The mill store has a collection of handmade arts, crafts and food for sale as well as products made locally and at the mill itself (we came home with cake flour milled by Terry. How cool is that?).

It's a gem of a place, and we are very glad to have found it!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wood-fired Pizza at Franklin Park

It's mid-November right?


I want to brag about the outdoor, wood-fired pizza experience we had yesterday at Franklin Park Community Garden.

Jim Budros, the man behind the outdoor kitchen theatre at the garden, put together a wonderful gathering and cooking on a sunny mild November afternoon.

We don't live too far from Franklin Park, so when we heard that there was pizza being made out of my dream pizza oven (I learned of this from my previous visit to the garden), I told my family to jump on our bikes pronto.

We got there just in time for the last pizza of the day (Jim said he made twenty!). The fire was still going strong both in the pizza oven and in the fireplace (where Jim was grilling skewers of pork tenderloin). We watched the 'show' and ate our pizza on a bench, drenched in mid November sun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Food-town that is Columbus

Why is it that in the 11 years of living in the Bay area, I did not have the privilege of dining with a cool chef like David Tanis? I even lived in the same town as this famous chef, and this famous food blogger (with whom I did share some meals). I know there are many reasons for this question.

At any rate, I did not expect to have moved to a city (small town?) that was quite this interested in good food. I am pleasantly surprised, needless to say, to have met many people who care as much about what they are eating, and where their food comes from.

Last week when I had the opportunity to share a meal with the Head Chef of Chez Panisse who was coming through Columbus on his book tour, I knew not to pass it up.

I can't say I knew much about David Tanis before this rendez-vous. But I sure know a lot about the restaurant at which he cooks and spends half of his annual time. It's probably one of the most famous and influential restaurants in this country. I am sad to say that we did not make it there either in our years in the Golden State.

I wrote a tiny book-review of Tanis' new book that should be on this blog in a few days. In a few words, though, I can attest that this talented and charming chef has given us a beautiful and inspiration book that every home cook should have in the kitchen, or at their bedside table (because it reads like a wonderful nonfiction).

I am honored to have met David Tanis in person, right here, in Columbus, Ohio.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


On our daytrip to western Ohio, Bethia insisted that I have to try a "Maid-Rite" burger in Greenville. You have to, she said. And it won't take more than 10 minutes!

Though I did not grow up eating burgers, beef or otherwise, I have been exposed to them living in the US. I must admit that I don't love burgers, of any kind, enough to order it at a restaurant. Give me a bowl of Pho any day, or a rice bowl with anything on it. I am a loyal rice fan.

So when I found out a little about what I was about to experience at Maid-Rite, I was a tad dubious. Loose beef burger? I was willing to give it a try once!

Now that I am on the other side of it, I can say that, in fact, I did enjoy the loose-beef burger. I enjoyed it quite a bit that I can say I would go back there tomorrow, if I was given the opportunity. Just don't offer me a bowl of Pho.

I was also intrigued by the chewed gum decorating along the outside walls of the Maid-Rite building. Intriguing is all I will say about it for now, because you know, I will probably have more to say after my next trip there for another loose-beef burger!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I was downtown the other day when I saw the Planters Peanuts guy standing proud on the side of a building.

Could this be the headquarter of these ubiquitous peanuts? I wondered to myself.

So I had to walk in there and find out, and get some peanuts...naturally.

It turns out that, no, it's not the headquarter, but this particular store (a franchise, I learned) has been here for 75 years! Several Planters Peanuts memorabilia decorate the store, along with several kinds of peanuts and other nuts and other treats alike! It's like stepping back in time, really. Not quite like a museum, but almost.

My favorite was Mr. Peanut with his bright red lips sitting on some kind of machine inside the store. You should go in just to say hi to the guy, and he might tell you the best kind of peanuts in the store.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Amish Country, Part II

How do they do it? How do they keep living their simple life when all around them exists the fast-paced, hyper-technology, materialistic, media-crazed world?

There is a little part me that wishes to live such a lifestyle. I know it is a lot more than that -- one can't just decide one day to give it all up, and go join the crowd (plus I would look out-of-place with my tan skin and dark hair). So the next best thing to do is to take a trip up to Holmes County and be inspired by the simple way of life, the bucolic landscapes. I do find myself feeling refreshed and re-inspired after each visit.

Last time we went for a day trip from Columbus to Holmes County, we only scratched the surface of the Ohio Amish country. For one, we picked the wrong day to go (Sunday - their sabbath!). We also thought Millersburg would be the center of it all (that's how it looks on the map), where in fact, Berlin and Walnut Creek are more centers of the Amish country.

We still did not make it to the latter two towns (saved for the next trip!). From Columbus, we took I-71 north to Hwy 39 which took us through Millersburg. Before we hit Berlin as we had planned, we got side-tracked and found ourselves heading south for Charm, Ohio. Yes, how can one say no to such an elegant name of a town? It was charming, indeed, and we had lunch at an Amish-style restaurant complete with creamed chicken and biscuits.

We also found ourselves, later on, driving on Ohio's First State Road which is a gravel road winding along the hilly landscape peppered with farm houses, beautiful old barns, horses and cows. We would occasionally pass by an Amish buggy containing well-clothed passengers (it was COLD!) who would wave to us from their small window.

Last but not least, we saw our first snow of the season! Yes, this is true. Some hills were actually covered with the powdery white stuff. Can you imagine the children's plea to stop to have a snowball fight? We reassured them that this would not be their only snowy opportunity.

All in all, it was another pleasant trip to the Amish country. We feel lucky to be close enough for a day-trip for a bit of rejuvenation, and a little reminder that indeed, less is more. Always.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Cambridge Tea House

If you want to treat yourself a little, or transport yourself into a European-like place, you should go to The Cambridge Tea House in Marble Cliff neighborhood (just beyond Grandview Heights).

This elegant (yet casual) place is right on W. 5th Ave. They specialize in tea, as the name suggests, yet there is so much more!

For instance, you can have an oatmeal breakfast like I did this morning, with a cup of perfectly brewed Rooibos tea on the side. You could also go for some eggs and bacon, if that is what you are hungry for. Or you can go the traditional English route, and order their homemade scone with butter or cream. Any which way, you can't really go wrong.

Lunch time there is supposed to be quite busy, but probably because it's so good and convenient! Soups, salads, quiches, you name it. You might feel so pampered that you won't want to go back to work...

It's also a great place to just come with a book, sip some warm tea on a cold day, and watch the world go by. There is nothing wrong with that, is there?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Scioto Audobon Metro Park

We have been a big fan of Audobon for a long time. Though Audobon may be synonymous with birds, the organization is a lot more than that now. If you have children (or not), this is a great book about the man himself.

Lucky for Columbus, we have a beautiful new building that houses the nature center at the Scioto Audobon Metro Park just a few miles south of downtown, next to the Scioto river. This green building boasts many 'green' features, and it won a well deserved gold medal award!

Since today is election day and around here, I guess that also means no school day, the kids and I went to pay the park a visit for the first time.

We were one of the only visitors this morning, aside from a couple of school field trip groups. Inside the beautiful building, you can find several rooms with hands-on activities, books and references, observation stations and some live animals (snapping turtles, toads, frogs and fish). You can even hear bird sounds coming in from the outside (I need to learn how they do this. It's pretty cool!). Outside, there are several trails that lead to the marshland, or along the river.

The Park has several programs for children, including a summer camp! I can't wait for the kids to join next summer. For now, we will go back to enjoy this nature sanctuary in our own backyard.

Monday, November 1, 2010

St. Joseph's Cathedral

I enjoyed 2010 Halloween this year, mostly because I was not handing out candy, or being scared by teenage costumes. Instead, my family and I attended a special ceremony at St. Joseph's cathedral in downtown Columbus where I volunteered to take photographs of the event.

Let me first tell you that I had no clue what to expect even though I was supposed to document the whole thing. Being born and raised in a mostly Buddhist country, I am still trying to figure out the Catholic stuff (I am married to a Catholic, but even then, I am still baffled). I was warned about the little, if any, light there will be during the candle ceremony...but that was about all.

It was different than normal mass which I have attended a few times in my life. There were prayers, yes, and singing, but the whole candle thing was quite spectacular! I did my best with the camera, but honestly, it was hard to capture the beauty, and the peace and the energy that I felt behind the lens.

I am not telling you to go to church, per se (I don't even go to a Buddhist temple myself, sad but true). I just wanted to share these pretty incredible moments I experienced, right in the middle of this city we are calling home.